John was born in Detroit on June 12, 1929. His parents, John and Margaret (Wasko) Brabenec preceded him in death, as well as his two sisters, Margaret Chaivre and Dorothy Boucher.
John is survived by his wife, Julia, his children, Rebeca, Jeffrey (Dawn Gladwell), and Elisa (Randy Gilmore), three grandchildren, Kalen, Ren and Echo, and his brother William of Attica, MI.
John and Julia spent their honeymoon in Northport in July of 1948, returning many times to their Land of Delight before settling here permanently in 1975. Together they planted an orchard of 1100 apple and peach trees, became certified in organic practices, and were the first to sell quality organic table fruit in Michigan. He was a pioneer in the Organic and sustainable agriculture movement in the county, as well as in alternative energy.
John spent the first 20 years of his working career as a printer at the Detroit Times and the Macomb Daily, with the ensuing years as a builder and, finally, as an orchardist. His love of the earth was foremost in his life and he believed strongly in our responsibility to be stewards of the land, and in the conservation of its resources.
He worked tirelessly with efforts to create peace in the world, founded the Leelanau Concerned Citizens in the 1980s, and was instrumental in organizing its monthly speaker’s platform addressing social injustice anywhere in the world. He was active in the work of the Leelanau Forum whose efforts toward ecological growth in our township are on-going.
John and his wife have been members of the Oryana Food Co-op since its beginning, and for many years supplied their vegetables, apples and peaches. He served on the Co-op board for one term during the period of its major expansion.
For many years he was active in the Leelanau Players and occasionally at Old Town Playhouse. He directed The Boyfriend, built countless sets, and acted on stage in several productions, most memorably in Foxfire.
John’s love and appreciation for his family was invincible and his warm and accepting heart reached out to countless others.
He had the rare quality of honoring the uniqueness in each person with whom he related, which resulted in many friends who felt special, loved and inspired by him. His intelligence, his kind, gentle nature and his ready smile touched the many people fortunate enough to have known him.
A Memorial celebration will be held on Monday, Nov. 1, 11 a.m. at Trinity Church in Northport. Memorial contributions may be made to ShareCare of Leelanau, the Leelanau Conservancy, the United Farm Workers, or the Parkinsons Foundation.